Accent improvement can help your career move forward, improve communication with others, and open up business horizons. Read on to learn more.
People Judge Your Accent
It’s not the accent itself (unless the listener truly can’t pick out a meaning.) People color their perceptions of others’ qualities based on certain cues. Like all pack animals, people are drawn to people like themselves.
Your listener is making an assumption about your trustworthiness and competency based on your speech. The more your accent is like your listener’s, the more likely the listener will find you to be competent. This is especially acute for women.
In the U.S. 21.5% of residents speak a language other than English at home. In places like California, the percentage is 45%. There are 8 other states including New York and New Jersey where more than 30% of the residents speak other languages at home. With statistics like that, it is surprising that accent discrimination is widely accepted- but it is.
An accent is a characteristic people routinely use to identify someone as unfamiliar or “not like me”. Just like skin color or religious garb sets off certain prejudices and perceptions, an accent can trigger certain assumptions. Discrimination based upon national origin is prohibited under Title VII.
Discrimination based on skin color and religious garb are also prohibited. Accents, however, are not protected if the “interfere with communication.”
Prejudice Is Not All of the Problem
Research suggests that non-native accents make speech more difficult for native speakers to understand. This makes people doubt the accuracy of what they are hearing.
Humans prefer easy to process stimuli over difficult. Psychologists have documented this preference many times. In studies of stock purchases, companies with easy to pronounce names outsell stocks of companies with harder to pronounce names. Other studies show that simple changes like changing the font in a printed statement or making something rhyme can alter perceptions.
Easier to process statements were judged more positively. This extended to the truthfulness of the statement, the intelligence of the author, and the reader’s own judgment.
Accent Improvement to Remove Bias
Study after study shows accented English speakers are perceived as less intelligent, less educated, less competent, and less pleasant to deal with. In business or seeking employment, an accent becomes a liability quickly.
What happens when you reduce your accent to sound more “American”? According to one study, your like ability and employability go way up. So does your perceived status- and that opens up more opportunities for you. People prefer easy to difficult- so a reduced accent automatically makes what you say more positive.
It’s hard work to modify an accent, but it can pay off in your career.
Other Benefits of Accent Improvement
Eliminating bias in employment is only one benefit of adopting a more standard accent. Think of all the time and frustration you will save yourself. No more repeating yourself to be understood!
Fun with Friends
Sometimes an accent gets in the way of easy and informal conversation. It’s hard to get to know someone or have meaningful conversations when it’s hard work to be understood. Changing your accent means more co-workers and friends will be able to pleasantly converse with you- without needing to ask you the same questions over and over!
In school or business, you often have the opportunity for oral presentations. No need to shy away from them. Speaking without a strong accent means that the focus is on your knowledge instead of your English.
Clear speech is a boost for your self-confidence. You may be self-conscious or reluctant to speak because of your accent or dialect. Think about how confident you will be without the communication barrier!
Misunderstandings and miscommunications because of dialect or accent are frustrating. Speaking clearly and plainly so that you only say things once is very efficient.
Increased Confidence from the Public
If you are in Sales, earning the trust of your customers is necessary to meet your sales goal. You can’t do that without building a rapport with your prospective customers. A heavy accent strongly biases native English speakers.
Perception of your trustworthiness and credibility increases when your accent is similar to the person listening.
Change your Accent With Help
Accent improvement can open up your career opportunities by reducing bias triggered by your accent. Studies show that strong accents reduce the chances of being thought of positively. Many jobs require clear communication and the confidence to speak in front of an audience.
Learning to speak Standard American English with a neutral accent takes consistent effort. It’s not difficult work, but it does take regular practice each day. With Pronunciation Pro, there are 12 weekly modules for intensive accent modification.
The program is:
- Directed to your weakest areas of pronunciation and fluency
- Organized, structured, and easy to understand.
- Based on decades of research in language and phonetics training
- Follow our 12-week schedule or go at your own pace.
- Review past lessons as needed.
- Access to bonus lessons, live webinars, and interactive community forum
Contact us today to learn more.